London: AIDS campaigners to protest at South Africa House

 600 people a day die in South Africa from the effects of AIDS. This number could be greatly reduced if the South African government were to provide anti-retroviral therapy for it's citizens. Tomorrow, campaigners will place 25 pairs of shoes every hour outside the South African High Commission in Traflgar Square, London. Each pair of shoes represents a life lost to HIV/AIDS - 25 an hour, 600 a day. As part of an international day of action called by the South African Treatment Action Campaign, UK HIV/AIDS campaigners are calling on the South African government to provide anti-retroviral therapy for its citizens. Anti-retrovirals are widely available in the developed world and people with HIV/AIDS are living full and productive lives. In South Africa, effective treatment is out of the financial reach of all but the lucky few. As a result the most economically productive section of society is being wiped out. The protest is coordinated by the Stop AIDS Campaign an initiative of the UK Consortium on AIDS & International Development, bringing together civil society groups in the UK to raise awareness about the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and campaign for urgently scaled up UK and international action. Derek Bodell, chair of the Stop Aids Campaign and Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust said: "We recognise that South Africa's transition to democracy has been remarkable. Its Constitution and democratic structures have set an example for the whole world. But South Africa's reputation is being tarnished by its reluctance to provide anti-retroviral treatment and uphold the rights to life, dignity and healthcare enshrined in the constitution." Simon Wright, chair of the UK Consortium on AIDS & International Development, HIV Campaign Manager for ActionAid said: "We believe that if the South African government makes this commitment, it will demonstrate that wide-scale treatment can be made available in the developing world. It will strengthen our efforts and those of civil society organisations worldwide in pressuring our Governments to unite to make life-saving treatment available to poor people everywhere." Source: CAFOD

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